January 15, 2008

From Michael Elson:

Re: Chimps found using spears (Feb. 22): Senegal is a very tiny country of about 76 thousand square miles, (that’s a square of 275 miles) and a population of about 13 million people. The land is quite sparsely populated by trees, and deforestation is rife there so it is difficult for me to visualize a successful habitat for chimpanzees. As for them using ‘spears’, this is a gross misnomer if a chewed stick is to be called a ‘spear’. This is merely an extension of the little sticks they commonly use to probe for ants. And to say “... without human help... .” claiming that they thought of it (a spear) themselves is really jumping to conclusions.

They have practically no privacy according to the demographics there, and therefore would certainly have seen human beings jabbing about with sticks or spears in their insatiable search for exotic birds. Senegal is the most prolific exporter of exotic birds in the world, which I guess would indicate that thousands of people would be “in the bush’ (what’s left of it... ) catching the birds.

Therefore I am not at all impressed with such a worthless-sounding news ‘scientific’ report - especially from the National Geographic Society.


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